Top 5% of students in any JC or MI to be eligible for NUS Law test and interview shortlist

To be eligible, the students must also select law as their first choice in their applications to NUS. PHOTO: SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS

SINGAPORE - In a bid to broaden the diversity of its student body, the National University of Singapore's (NUS) law faculty will be shortlisting more students for the admission test and interview for its Bachelor of Laws (LLB) programme.

Under a pilot initiative starting this year, students from the top 5 per cent of the cohort at any of the junior colleges or Millennia Institute will be eligible for shortlisting to take the test and to attend the interview, said NUS in a statement on Monday (Feb 8).

This will be determined by their results in the A-level exams, International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma exams or equivalent. To be eligible, they must also select law as their first choice in their applications to NUS.

Currently, some 2,000 students apply to the LLB programme each year. About 800 of them are shortlisted for the written test and interview, and 240 are eventually admitted to the course.

The pilot programme is expected to add about 50 students to the shortlist, with those from schools with lower representation in the law faculty being the target.

These candidates will be in addition to those shortlisted through the regular process based on academic scores and discretionary admissions recognising excellence in non-academic areas.

All candidates go through the same rigorous selection process, said NUS.

The faculty's dean, Professor Simon Chesterman, told The Straits Times in an interview on Monday: "We are looking at improving diversity in two ways, firstly in terms of skills and knowledge, and secondly in terms of the backgrounds of our students."

Prof Chesterman said students from well-represented JCs will not be overlooked in favour of those shortlisted as part of this pilot programme. "It means that we will do more interviews to see these students," he said.

Back in 2012, the law faculty stated that it would review its admissions criteria to attract more diverse applicants, including looking at the kinds of students it would admit under the discretionary admission scheme.

The faculty is also looking to smooth the transition for transfer students from other degree courses in NUS by allowing their first-year modules in a different subject to be counted towards their four years in law school.

Currently, most students who transfer do not have their first-year academic credits counted, resulting in them taking five years to graduate instead of the usual four.

"These students, like our exchange students from overseas, will bring with them an injection of talent and perspective from other disciplines," said Prof Chesterman.

He added that increased technological and business knowledge is becoming increasingly relevant in the legal profession and that diversity in the student body is a way to fill this knowledge gap.

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